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Running game powers Bullpups past NC

Griffin Hare ran for 315 yards on 27 carries and the Gonzaga Prep defense forced four turnovers as the Bullpups raced past North Central 45-12 in a Greater Spokane League football game at G-Prep on Friday night.

The Bullpups (6-0), playing without their usual starting quarterback, senior Zach Bonneau, kept the ball on the ground all night, with sophomore Nick Woods orchestrating an offense that gashed North Central (1-5) for 487 yards on 66 carries.

“We’re going to run the ball,” said G-Prep coach Dave McKenna. “That’s who we are, that’s what we do. We have five seniors up front that do a heck of a job.”

Gonzaga Prep only attempted two passes, one that fell incomplete and one that was intercepted.

The Bullpups (ranked fourth in the State 4A poll) were coming off an emotional 33-27 win over GSL preseason favorite Mead.

“There’s always that emotional letdown after a big win, that’s what people expect,” McKenna said. “But these kids, they’re resilient. They’re phenomenal. We believe in these kids and they believe in us.”

And the Bullpups believed they could move the ball even without Bonneau (the league’s fifth-leading rusher with 532 yards) and junior running back Tom Davis (316 yards with a 12.6 per carry average). Both were injured and among a handful of players watching in street clothes.

“Nick does a great job,” McKenna said of his sophomore quarterback who played the first three quarters. “When you run the football as we do, you have to have 10 guys blocking.”

And one guy who can break big runs. That would be Hare.

He set the tone early, running 11 times out of a Wildcat formation before intermission, accounting for 118 of his 233 first-half rushing yards. That helped the Bullpups build a 24-6 lead.

He not only scored three first-half touchdowns, he set up Max Gruber’s 33-yard field goal with a 77-yard weave through the Indians’ defense just before the halftime homecoming festivities.

Hare sat the fourth quarter after carrying the ball just four times in the third quarter, but his last one was a 64-yard touchdown run on a third-and-4 handoff up the middle, putting the Bullpups up 38-6.

Besides picking off three passes and forcing a fumble, the G-Prep defense limited North Central to 213 yards of total offense, 82 of those coming in the fourth quarter against the Bullpups’ subs.

“When the plays were there to be made, we made them,” McKenna said.